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Is Government Considering Credits for Carers?

It’s Saturday morning and I’ve just read on the BBC News website that the Government is considering giving credits to people who provide care. These credits could then be redeemed against that person’s own future or current social care costs. The article then says the Government is praising the Japanese system Fureai Kippu.

Rather stupidly, my immediate thought was “the Government is stealing my ideas!!!”, as if this wasn’t exactly the point of my job.

Last year, I proposed these ideas in Crediting Carers and have also pushed them during the Government’s consultation on refreshing the Carers’ Strategy. I actually recently repeated the idea of redeeming credits against future social care costs in my blog on “Considering Insurance Scheme for Care Needs” as well. So, all very interesting.

Then I get a call from the BBC who want to interview me for their TV news programmes. Interesting becomes quite exciting but quickly turns to puzzlement. The BBC phone back to say the Government are now denying they are considering the idea although it is interesting, so the story is going dead and no interview is needed. The news article is changed to its current format.

So did the Government change their mind? And if so what caused it?

Well, if they did, it could have been because of slightly negative reaction from some people, including the National Council for Voluntary Organisations as quoted in the BBC article. Their criticism is that it won’t motivate people to volunteer, as suggested in the original article, that people who volunteer shouldn’t be rewarded and the statement of a belief that care is and should be provided by the State and not family or friends.

What they completely ignore is that there are already 6 million people providing care that the State otherwise would have to, and that people currently do and will ever more so in the future pay for social care. I’m not sure if those making quick responses actually understand the proposals in detail.

The idea of credits for caring is the only way to ensure that an insurance based system, which is highly likely to be created (see my earlier blog mentioned above), is fair to people who provide care that would otherwise have to be paid for. Ivan Lewis MP at the Labour conference said it was obvious that crediting carers would have to be part of the future system.

Quite simply, if the Government isn’t considering this, then it should be. And if it was considering it but is now more hesitant, the Government must stand up and explain why these changes are necessary and right.

Gordon

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October 30, 2010 - Posted by | Carers Strategy, Conservatives, Liberal Democrats | , ,

9 Comments »

  1. Gordon, there is no way that Full Time Experienced Carers working over 50 hours per week will sell out for this “promise” (ha ha who believes a government promise!) of some unknown amount at some unknown time in the future. Half of us will probably be dead anyway the way things are going on. I also think its an insult to call us “volunteers”.

    How about campaigning for the Housing Benefit cuts to be dropped? That would put an average of £12 a week back in the household incomes of families with Carers.

    Comment by ians12 | November 1, 2010 | Reply

    • Hi Ian
      My original proposal actually allowed carers to use the credits now as a personal budget so that carers could receive immediate support and benefit rather than as you say waiting for that to come at some point in the future.

      Gordon

      Comment by Gordon Conochie | November 2, 2010 | Reply

  2. The scheme as suggested in the media would not do as you propose, Gordon. It would simply divert the cost to a later date rather than solve the problem of paying for care. There’s been too much of that.

    Ultimately it would not benefit any carer who is already in receipt of Carers Allowance – NI paid, 2nd state pension added to – or any carer over 65: a growing group already. As a carer, I can’t support that.

    The suggestion seemed to be less about recognising actual carers and more about encouraging friends, neighbours or complete strangers to do a “Big Society” and gain a small but uncertain reward. As a carer, I can’t support that.

    Comment by charles47 | November 2, 2010 | Reply

    • Hi Charles
      I’m not sure if I understand regarding your comment about giving credits for caring not solving the problem of paying for care. Do you mean the problem of the Govt/whole population paying for a sustainable and quality care system or the problem of individuals paying for care?

      If it is the first, the proposal doesn’t attempt to solve the issue but it has to be part of the solution, which is likely to be based on individuals making contributions throughout their lifetime into an insurance fund that will cover the cost of care when they need it. But in such as sytem if you have families preferring to provide care themselves rather than using insurance money to pay people to come in then this is a way of compensating them for that. My blogs I mention above expands on this.

      If it is the second, then it would help people cover the costs of care because the credits could be used for that purpose.

      You are right that the way the media covered the story was that it was an idea to reward people taking on caring roles who maybe aren’t at the moment. But this would also mean that people currently in caring roles would receive the credits as well. So people currently caring would beenfit.

      The credits could also be given to anybody regardless of what benefits they were receiving so it woudln’t exclude carers on Carer’s Allowance or State Pension. It’s not an income replacement benefit which these benefits so you could receive credits and also an income replacement benefit.

      Gordon

      Comment by Gordon Conochie | November 2, 2010 | Reply

      • Gordon wrote: “But in such as sytem if you have families preferring to provide care themselves rather than using insurance money to pay people to come in then this is a way of compensating them for that.”

        But there is nothing in the comments from ministers, the Dept of Health or anywhere else that even begins to suggest this, Gordon. Frankly I don’t see it as being likely – ignoring the fact that insurance has always been a pooled amount of cash held against an eventuality…not everyone will draw from it. If they did – as they would with your suggestion – the pot would be too small to cope. Back to rationing: and if it’s anything like Personalisation, that will mean that whatever carers do is seen as not requiring support. No points for resource allocation where the carer is already providing or agreeing to provide that support.

        Comment by charles47 | November 3, 2010

  3. Strangely enough I find myself agreeing with Charles! Unusual that, lol!

    The only “credit” I would accept would be hard cash paid to my bank account for every hour I have worked, ahem, backdated of course…

    Lets see, what amount would the “credit” be, ah yes, CUK quote a figure of about £14 per hour as the rate to be paid for care.

    So, allowing for inflation, in my case that’s about 50 hours per week going back 16 years that’s around £24k owing.

    I shall write and ask Ivan Lewis to pay it, he can probably afford it as he gets more than that in expenses every year!

    Comment by ians12 | November 2, 2010 | Reply

    • Likewise, Ian, except the £14 quoted isn’t a pay rate – it’s the average rate charged by an agency for home care services. Staff get rather less. My son’s service comes in at about £14 an hour but the staff themselves get a lot less. With personalisation aiming to get that average figure down, the £87bn figure may need some revision.

      Comment by charles47 | November 2, 2010 | Reply

  4. I think it a great shame that this interview with the BBC News did not take place, due to the Government’s reluctance to agree to this strategy of ‘carers credits’ going towards providing care now and in the future.

    Future care has to be planned for, and even if successive Governments have got it wrong before, now it has to be faced that a new and successful/workable policy for paying for care has to be put into operation and soon.

    We can’t just think of how it affects us now,at this minute, but of how it has to change for the better, for the future too. I know Carers have had a raw deal, but progress is being made, albeit frustratingly slowly.

    I believe that we have to take a more positive attitude – no point in comparing the pittance of the Carers Allowance, (or the lack of one, if you receive a State Pension) with what Politicians earn or claim on their expenses. It’s pointless.

    Caring for a loved one is hard, challenging, tiring, lonely, frustrating, but basically we do it for love, not money. I’m the poorest I’ve ever been financially, caring for my elderley Mum and I’m aged 62, but any positive steps to bring about a change in this situation, I will welcome.

    Comment by Anne Yavary | November 2, 2010 | Reply

    • The bottom line is politicians are only concerned with what wins them votes, and making proper provision for Carers and for Care in general is not a subject they view as important. You can tell by the way they never answer direct questions about it. My point about MPs expenses was how can they ever know what its like on benefits when a lot are millionaires and they get over £100k in expenses? I think its a very relevant point. It means they are out of touch and “just don’t gedit”.
      There is therefore no enthusiasm for increasing taxes even though it would only take a small increase in high end taxation to provide properly for Care in the future and for Carers right now.
      To date I see no progress that you speak of.

      Comment by ians12 | November 3, 2010 | Reply


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